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Memix 128MB USB Memory Watch

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Review We like USB Flash drives. They're easy to use, make cross-platform file swapping a doddle, and they're incredibly convenient. Why lug around an external drive or a pile of Zip disks when you can carry 1GB on your keychain?

E-mail isn't the answer - too many ISPs block attachments that are bigger than a couple of megabytes - and online storage sites are just too slow if you're not on broadband.

The downside is the ease with which Flash drives can be left at home or the office, or lost. They're not as easy to lose as SD cards, but they're not far behind. True, many drives ship with little lanyards, but what self-respecting BOFH or code hacker is going to go strolling around the campus with Sony MicroVault or Crucial Gizmo dangling from his or her wrist?

Enter Memix's Memory Watch, which offers the perfect solution: Flash storage you can wear. Built within the watch's body is 128MB of Flash memory ready for your most personal of files. So you can carry around confidential documents you couldn't trust to a too-attractive-to-thieves notebook. Or your own home folder, allowing to use any compatible system they way you want to without affecting the machine owner's preferences. Or keep your pr0n portable, and secure from the prying eyes of partners. Whatever. It's discreet and safe.

We've been walking around for the past week with highly sensitive, confidential roadmaps from a certain well-known chip manufacturer on our Memory Watch, right under the noses of company officials, who we even offered to tell the time...

Actually, that's a complete lie. The files were totally unremarkable PDFs, downloaded from the company Web site, but you get the idea.

Get connected

The really clever bit is the integrated USB connector, which flips out of the strap ready to be plugged into your PC. Just slide back the loop that stops the end of the strap flapping about and out pops a standard USB connector on a short, 2in cable. That's enough - just - to hook the watch up to a computer while you're wearing it. Fortunately, Memix bundles a USB extension cable which makes the process rather easier.

Connect the watch and there's your Flash drive, on your desktop or My Computer folder. A tiny LED on the watch's dial reminds you the watch is connected.

Memix claims data transfer rates of 1000KBps for reads and 920KBps for writes. We measured 963.13KBps and 736.27KBps, respectively, calculated using a 100MB test file. Our watch's drive was formatted using the HFS+ disk format, and the difference between specified and measured data rates is due to OS and main hard drive file operation overheads. Your mileage may vary, as they say, but the watch drive felt responsive enough and didn't seem inherently slower than other USB Flash drives we've used.

Timepiece

If the Memix Memory Watch has a failing it's the watch itself. It's certainly no looker - you're not going to chuck out your Gucci or Seiko after buying one of these - though it's by no means cheap looking. The strap is plastic - metal would have been nicer - and while it can be replaced without losing the USB connector and cable, no other strap will have the recess to hold said connector.

Internally, the watch boasts a "Japanese mechanism", said by Austrian watch retailer LAKS, which also sells the Memory Watch under its own name, to be produced by Citizen. It certainly kept time well enough while we were testing it, and continues to do so. The watch contains a three-year battery, but replacing it isn't easy. The watch's insides are accessible through a back-plate held in place by four tiny Philips screws. Between the you and the watch mechanism and battery is the USB drive circuit board - the Flash chip comes from Toshiba, by the way - also screwed in place. Putting in a new battery will require a very steady hand.

Nevertheless, the Memory Watch makes not only an ideal gift for the geek who has everything, but also a neat answer to the risk of losing your most valuable data. At the very least, it's got to be the easiest way of exchanging files between systems. It's pricey for a 128MB Flash drive - you can get no-name drives of that capacity for under £25 these days - but it's no more expensive than a Swatch and a separate Flash drive. This way you get the convenience of both timepiece and storage in the same package - and it's the best way of ensuring you always keep key information with you where ever you go.

So, if you like the sound of the Memix Memory Watch, you can buy one right now in our new Cash'n'Carrion USB section. It comes in either in either black or silver grey for £67.99 (£79.88 inc VAT) ®

Rating 90%
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Difficult to lose
  • Great value
Cons
  • Plastic strap
  • Not the most stylish of timepieces
  • Battery fiddly to replace
Price £67.99 excluding UK sales tax

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